Eric Bowden has over 19 years of software development experience around enterprise and departmental business productivity applications.
One of my favorite aspects of working within the framework of a scrum team at ThreeWill is the effort we take to ensure that the tasks to which we apply our best effort provide results which are the best value for our customers.
Consider the hierarchy which leads to a billable task hour:
- Vision/Mission leads to Objectives
- Objectives lead to a Project
- A Project leads into a Project Plan
- A Project Plan contains Product Backlog Items (features)
- Product Backlog Items lead into Tasks
There is a level of certainty, and thus uncertainty, at every level. When I’m introduced to a project, I often remind myself believe none of what you hear and half of what you read, a variant of a quote by Benjamin Franklin.
Essentially, if I consider the hierarchy above for any endeavor, my understanding and/or the communication at each level could range somewhere between “completely wrong” to “mostly correct”. Why? Maybe I misunderstood. Maybe these points were not communicated well.
More often, maybe the authors of these points weren’t sure of the answers themselves (i.e. do not know what they want, do not know the objectives) and thus the points communicated were simply incorrect. For example, maybe the vision/mission or objectives were set, but afterward, it was discovered that the vision/mission or objectives need to be corrected.
Of course, often, a plan is set, and we complete the project according to the plan. But, what if?
Not a problem, this is where tight feedback cycles help. Through daily stand-ups and weekly sprint reviews, the team lead(s) are having conversations, reviewing the product backlog, and reviewing sprint plans to be sure that we’re building the right software, heading in the right direction. We may not be setting high-level vision/mission or objectives for a project, but we’re doing our part to contribute, be sure we understand, and make any adjustments if the vision/mission or objectives change. The point is that we take steps to be sure we get it right and provide the best value for our customers.
Make the plan, throw away the plan: It is very likely that what seemed like a good plan yesterday is not a good plan today. Most likely, the plan will need a slight correction, and a larger correction may be needed too. The sooner we can discover that an adjustment is needed, the lesser the impact. As part of our process, we’re flexible, we’re open to updated ideas/direction, and re-planning, all to be sure we provide the best value.